His arraignment by a military judge at Fort Bragg in North Carolina lasted less than 15 minutes.
At the hearing, Bergdahl opted not to decide yet if he wants to be tried by a judge or a panel of military personnel serving as a jury. He also deferred entering a plea.
He answered "yes" and "no" to questions about whether he understood his rights and the court proceedings. He wore an Army dress uniform with a dark blue jacket and pants and had closely cropped hair. He mostly sat still in his chair and walked with his head down as he left the courtroom. The next scheduled hearing in this case is on Jan. 12, 2016.
Bergdahl disappeared on June 30, 2009, from Combat Outpost Mest-Malak in Paktika province, Afghanistan, and was captured by Taliban forces, who subjected him to torture and neglect.
He left his post to draw attention to "leadership failure" in his unit, he said on the popular podcast "Serial," which is following his case.
In ordering the court-martial, Army Gen. Robert Abrams did not follow the recommendation of a preliminary hearing officer who, according to Bergdahl's lawyer, called for Bergdahl to face a proceeding that could impose a potential maximum penalty of a year in confinement.
Al Jazeera and wire services